HH: It’s been an incredible week for Mitt Romney. He’s achieved a breakthrough of sorts in the Evangelical community, even among the very conservative fundamentalist community, people who were not thought to be favoring him because of his Mormon religion. And today, in an op-ed that will be widely circulated among the senior Evangelical leadership in the United States, Professor Wayne Grudem, who’s a professor at Phoenix Seminary, endorses Mitt Romney’s candidacy. To let you know why this is significant, Dr. Grudem is perhaps one of the best well-known theologians in the United States. He’s a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, and I think probably his textbook is more widely used in seminaries across the United States than any other. Dr. Grudem joins me now from Phoenix. Dr. Grudem, good to have you on.
WG: Thank you, Hugh.
HH: What is that textbook? What’s the title of that one which is everywhere?
WG: Systematic Theology.
HH: And when did that come out?
HH: And so this…is that the best selling theological textbook in America?
WG: Well, it does pretty well.
HH: All right, that’s a good thing to say. Modesty befits you. Dr. Grudem, I was a little bit surprised to see this today. I know you are very influential in Evangelical circles, especially those who pay attention to theology. How difficult was it for you to come to the conclusion that Mitt Romney should be the next president?
WG: Well, I started thinking about this, Hugh, when I heard you speak at the Evangelical Theological Society meeting last November, and talked to you after that a bit. And then, I read your book, A Mormon In The White House?, and I thought it was very influential, just in persuading me of Romney’s qualifications. He’s just so incredibly smart, top five percent of his class at Harvard Business School, and simultaneously getting a degree from Harvard Law School, and in the top one quarter of his class there. And then this remarkable business success. Hugh, you probably know, but at Bain & Co., he brought out of financial trouble probably hundreds of companies as a consultant.
HH: Yes. 160, I believe, is the number that one of his partners cited to me.
WG: How many?
WG: Wow. And these include some large corporations in the United States. And so he knows business. He knows what makes business work. That means he knows what makes the economy work, he knows what makes jobs available for people. And he knows it from the inside, and he’s been very successful at it. But then, in addition to that, he’s been governor of Massachusetts, of all places, which means he’s a Republican who can get a lot of Democratic votes, and restored fiscal discipline there. And then on top of that, he rescued the Salt Lake City Olympic games in 2002, which really was a difficult challenge, because it’s managing a sort of public-private agency, and a lot of constituencies to appeal to, and the whole eyes of the world are on a person who’s managing that, and it was headed for disaster, and he brought it out, and it succeeded, and brought honor to the country in which those winter Olympics were held.
HH: Now Dr. Grudem, for the benefit of the audience who are not theologians, or conversant with theology in the debates, where do you put yourself on the spectrum of American Protestantism when it comes to theology?
WG: I’m a conservative Evangelical. I hold to the inerrancy of the Bible, that is it’s completely God’s Word, and it’s truthful in every respect. And that’s the position I’ve advocated in my Systematic Theology book.
HH: Now let me read from the column that is posted today at Townhall.com. I’ve linked it at Hughhewitt.com. “Romney is a Mormon, and I strongly disagree with a significant number of Mormon theological beliefs, which I find to be inconsistent with the Bible, and with historic Christian teaching. But many Mormon teachings on ethics and values are similar to those in the Bible, and those teachings support Romney’s conservative political values.” You also go on to write that, “Have we come to the point where Evangelicals will only vote for people they consider Christians? I hope not, for nothing in the Bible says that people have to be born again Christians before they can be governmental authorities who are used greatly by God to advance His purposes.” That’s an argument I made, but I don’t think I ever made it that succinctly. Is that widely, is that a view widely held within serious theological circles, Wayne Grudem?
WG: Well, I think it’s just there on the surface of the Bible. When I started to think about this, Hugh, I thought did God ever use in a positive way, for His people, in the Old Testament or the New Testament, did He ever use leaders, governmental leaders who didn’t believe in the God of Israel, or didn’t believe in Jesus Christ? Yes, and I gave some examples. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, raised up Joseph to a position of authority over Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar raised up Daniel and his friends to positions of high authority over Babylon in the Book of Daniel. In the book of Ezra, you see Cyrus, king of Persia, was used by God to restore the Jewish exiles and bring them back to their homeland. The book of Isaiah talks about that, predicts it, actually, a long time in advance. And Darius, king of Persia in the book of Ezra, protects the Jewish people as they rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. And then in the book of Esther, Ahasuerus, king of Persia, is raised up by God to give leadership to Esther as queen, and to give Mordecai the high authority and honor in the Persian kingdom. And then if you look over to the New Testament age, you see the Roman empire, which had imposed this pax romana, the governmentally-imposed peace in the world, so that the…I think God used that so the early Christians could travel throughout the Roman world, the Mediterranean world, and spread the Gospel just after the early Church was founded.
HH: So are you shocking your friends? Have you been hearing from people all day long as they’ve read about Dr. Wayne Grudem, this extraordinary name in Evangelical circles, saying you’re for Romney? What’s the reaction?
WG: The reaction has been positive so far, Hugh. In fact, the reaction has been hmm, you know, I was thinking sort of the same thing myself. I don’t know if people had gone back and thought about those examples in the Bible where God used others who were not believing in the God of the Bible in the way at lease we would understand that. But those examples, I think, are quite persuasive. What we’re looking for is someone who is the best qualified candidate. And I think beyond question, Romney is the best qualified candidate of either party, and then who has conservative moral and political values that ar consistent with the ethical standards of Scripture. And certainly, Romney does, and so I think it makes sense to support him.
HH: You also write in a bit of analysis that’s not theological, but I think is very astute politically, “Some people object that Romney has ‘flip-flopped’ on some of his positions. I think that accusation is exaggerated,” you write. “He hasn’t flip-flopped back and forth. He has simply become more consistently conservative.” Isn’t that what we want, Wayne Grudem?
WG: Exactly. And so, what are we going to do? Only support people who have been consistently conservative since grade school? I think if Romney has become more conservative, which I think he has on gay rights or homosexual marriage questions, on abortion, for instance, on those two issues. Perhaps also on defense, although I don’t know. He’s certainly being very consistently conservative on that question. Well, I’m thankful for that. I think that means he is someone who has understood the issues of the day in a right way. He’s no doubt considered the arguments on both sides, and he’s able to articulate and defend those and stand for those positions. So I think we should support him.
HH: We’ve got about 30 seconds left, Dr. Grudem. Do you think this is one of many that we will be seeing in weeks ahead as we get close to Iowa, New Hampshire, and the primaries beyond of leading Evangelicals, thinkers, and leaders coming out and saying Romney’s our guy?
WG: That’s my sense. That’s my expectation, yes. Definitely.
HH: Is the Mormon issue dissipating?
WG: I think so, because people aren’t talking about Mormons in general. They’re talking about this specific man who happens to be a Mormon. But George Bush happens to be a Methodist, and Benjamin Franklin happened to be a Deist, and so did Thomas Jefferson, and those things aren’t the most important things. The thing is, is he qualified, and are his positions right? And certainly, they are.
HH: Dr. Wayne Grudem of Phoenix Seminary, always a pleasure to talk to you, and thanks for a great column, timely column, and for joining us on today’s Hugh Hewitt Show.
End of interview.